Monday, March 10, 2008

To stuff or not to stuff...

Aye, that is the question.

Slartie recently wrote up an excellent post about popular packing methods. I recommend it, especially if you are new to pipe smoking.

I smoke mostly bulk, non-flake type tobaccos (but I'm soon going to remedy that--I have smoked flake, it's just been a while). I started out many years ago trying to adhere religiously to the three-layer method as described to me by an occasional pipe smoking penpal of mine at the time. Back in the days before I had Internet access, and we actually used snail mail. Even then, I typed all my letters, since my handwriting has always been pretty near atrocious and I get a sort of pleasure out of typing. But I digress.

The best I can describe my current packing method is that it's a combination of scooping and layering. I often scoop the first layer. One thing I always do is that for each layer I tap the bowl with a finger to help settle the tobacco before I push down on it. For the following layers, I trickle the leaves in as slowly as possible. This can be difficult depending on the cut of the leaf. But as for hitting exactly three layers every time, ha! I usually end up layering it four or five times before I'm finished. I suppose my layers just aren't thick enough. But I don't try for any exact number of layers. I just keep going until the bowl is full.

I think the best name for the way I do it is trickling and tapping. I am always able to smoke my pipes right down to the bottom. I'm not going to say that my way is the right way, but it works for me, and that's what counts. When you find a method that works for you, use it. Don't worry about it if someone else says it's not the right way to pack a pipe.


  1. Thanks for the packing write up.

    I was wondering how the draw is supposed to feel. I think my first few pipes the draw has been too easy. In fact it feels like sucking through a straw, almost no resistance.

  2. Then you probably have it about right. If you feel any real resistance, it's too tight.

    Learning to pack takes practice. If you get it too tight, you can always use a nail or the pick on a pipe tool to remove it all and repack.